“From Hand to Mouth,” Fitz-James O’Brien, 1858 – An author attends a performance of Meyerbeer’s “The Huguenots” with his music critic friend, Cobra. After a night of drinking, he finds himself locked out of his hotel and takes shelter at the hotel of Count Goloptious, a Publisher. The hotel’s walls are decorated with hands, eyes, ears, and mouths that spy on him and demand tips, but the room is free. He eventually falls for a women (the “Blonde Head”) in the adjacent room and promises to help the legless sculptress escape. The story contains a chapter entitled, “This is a Stupid Chapter, And I Know It.” Unfinished.
Comments: Could not help but think of Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast (1946) while reading this. Wonderfully surreal. Sf historian Sam Moskowitz referred to this story in 1971 as “the single most striking example of surrealistic fiction to pre-date Alice in Wonderland.” Salmonson points out: The story is also a critique of the magazine market’s “three columns a day” imperative. O’Brien refused to finish the story and the “just a dream” ending may have been added by an editor. (Amanda Salmonson, The Supernatural Tales of Fitz-James O’Brien: Volume Two, Dream Stories and Fantasies).
Author: Wikipedia: “Fitz James O’Brien (also spelled Fitz-James; December 31, 1828 – April 6, 1862) was an Irish-born American writer.”